The envoy said this as the chief guest at a mock parliamentary debate on 'Bangladesh should not seek compensation for climate change but seek the right to migrate to rich countries for 20 million climate refugees' organised by Muslim Aid and Debate for Democracy at the National Press Club in the city.
Stefan said, “With the Copenhagen summit going on, this is a crucial time to have this debate.”
“The EU is standing shoulder to shoulder with Bangladesh on the issue of climate change,” he said, adding that EU would assist Bangladesh in facing the challenges of climate change.
The envoy hoped that Bangladesh would succeed and realise its dream of becoming a self-sufficient developed country by 2021, saying that EU would offer its assistance to the country in achieving that dream.
At the debate, students from Dhaka University, Holy Cross College and United International University formed two teams -- the ruling party and the opposing party.
They debated on the passage of a bill proposed by the ruling party that aimed at migrating 20 million people to rich countries as climate change refuges.
“The mock parliamentary debate created much excitement and enthusiasm about such an important topic that the real parliament could not,” said Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie MP as the special guest.
“The timing of the debate has also been crucial, especially as the developed countries have paid little or no attention to the proposals we made at the Copenhagen summit,” he said.
Also speaking as the special guest, Zunayed Ahmed Palak MP said climate change is currently the most-talked-about global concern.
“The political parties in our country should realise that this problem would not just affect the ruling party or the opposing party, but it would adversely affect both and everyone else in the country as well.”
“Both the government and opposition leaders should come forward and jointly seek a solution to this problem,” he said.
Debate for Democracy Chairman Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran moderated the debate and played the role of the speaker at the mock parliament.
“Studies have shown a slight rise at sea level would cause 15 to 17 percent of the country's land to go under water. Millions of people would be gravely affected by this catastrophe,” he said.
“Therefore, the notion that people can be migrated to developed countries as climate change refuge can be proposed as a strategic demand in Copenhagen,” he said, explaining the topic of the parliamentary debate.
Chairperson H Fadlullah Wilmot, country director of Muslim Aid, praised the debaters and hailed their arguments and counter-arguments as detailed arguments that the higher authorities may consider.